Semester 5

Wood Turning By Hand (or foot)

There are so many great furniture projects out there that have turned elements. Lathes have been around for thousands of years so there are many options open for the hand tool woodworker. This semester will tackle wood turning by comparing spring pole and treadle lathes, then build versions of each. We finish by building a Shake Candle stand introduce turning furniture parts.


Introduction to turning tools

This lesson looks at the variety of turning tools from roughing and spindle gouges to skew chisels and specialty hollowing tools. We will examine how the geometry of the blade effects the cut, and the body mechanics to ensure a clean cut. We will also include turning tools with replaceable carbide tip tools.

Sharpening Turning Tools

Despite the complex geometry of some turning tools, they are quite easy to sharpen. We will look at the sharpening process, when to sharpen, and how to reduce sharpening time. Then we will build a grinding wheel attachment for the treadle lathe.

Spindle Turning

This lesson looks at turning between centers on both the spring pole and treadle lathes. This includes preparing and securing the work piece to the cutting techniques. We apply these skills with 4 small, yet useful shop projects

Faceplate Turning

We will examine the entire process of faceplate turning by turning a small bowl using traditional methods and by employing a modern chuck. We will then explore several practice projects to strengthen our skills. Finally we will construct a type of chuck called an arbor and cross for very large faceplate turnings.

Electric vs. Meat Powered Turning

This lesson compares and contrasts turning and work piece preparation between electric powered lathes and foot powered lathes. We will also look closely at the differences between spring pole and treadle lathe turning.


Spring Pole Lathe

Spring pole lathes have been in use for millenia and this ancient lathe form still exists today. The spring pole lathe is simple and can be made from scraps and a sapling or like more elegant 16th and 17th century forms. We will build the now iconic Hulot 1775 version made popular by The Woodwright Shop and Roy Underhill. This lathe is easy to build, requires very little material, and can even be knocked down flat when not in use.

Treadle Lathe

There are more designs for treadle lathes than one could possibly build in a lifetime. We will take several “field trips” to examine 18th, 19th, and 20th century treadle lathe designs. Then we will build a smaller footprint yet very stable treadle lathe design that incorporate modern hardware to use current product chucks and drive spurs. It will be well suited for spindle turning as well as face plate work, and we will add in some attachments for tool sharpening and large faceplate work.

Shaker Pedestal Table

Now that we can turn “by hand” why not build a classic example of wood turned furniture? The Candle Stand from the Lebanon Valley Shaker Colony has become a synbol of the perfect form. This table is beautiful in its simplicity and lets us try different types of wood turning from the elegant vase shaped column to the circular top.